IAG AUGUST 2016 - page 4

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asiangaming
August2016
4
Greyhound racingadvocatesgone to thedogs
F
or the most part, I tend to oppose laws that place blanket
bans on activities due to the irresponsible actions of a small
few. A prime example is making headlines in the UK right
now, where newly appointed aviation minister Tariq Ahmad
has proposed abanon alcohol sales at all UK airports.
Ahmad’s proposal is in response to several recent incidents
in which intoxicated passengers have caused major disturbances
either at airports or mid-flight, with 442 such incidents reported
between 2014 and 2016. But UK airports have seenmore than 600
million passengers pass through in that time, meaning for every
passenger that caused a disturbance, 1.4millionpassengers didn’t.
Talk about overkill.
Yet for all the similarly absurd examples of politicians taking a gun
to a pillow fight, there are times when the evidence for a total ban is
simply too compelling to ignore. The greyhound industry has reached
that time.
In early July, NSW PremierMike Baird announced that Australia’s
largest state would shut down greyhound racing completely by 1 July
2017 after a damning inquiry revealed widespread animal abuse. It is
worth noting that Australia is the largest feedermarket for the supply
of greyhounds inMacau.
Although a crackdown wasn’t unexpected, the total ban in NSW
came as a huge surprise and debate has been fierce since. Not
surprisingly, themain argument being used against the ban is that it
punishes themajority for the actions of a few.
But there are two problems with this argument when it comes to
greyhoundracing.One, it’snotactually trueand two, it’s irrelevantanyway.
Let’s look at the figures. In thewake of its 12month investigation
into the greyhound racing industry, the government’s Special
Commission of Inquiry found there had been somewhere between
48,891 and 68,448 greyhounds killed because they were deemed too
slow to race. Another 180 dogs each year suffered “catastrophic”
injuries such as fractured skulls or broken backswhile racing. And up
to20%of trainerswere found touse livebaiting to train their dogs – a
practice whereby live animals such as rabbits, cats and squirrels are
used as bait tobe chased andultimately torn apart by dogs.
Thenumbersaloneare staggering, but they also reveal an industry
that it is rotten at the core.
In essence the report suggests that, although the majority of
greyhoundowners race their dogsbecauseof agenuinepassion for the
sport, there is a smaller group for whom racing is a profession – with
cash their solemotivation. And it iswithin thisgroup that thebadseeds
primarily exist.
Theyare, after all, theones looking toprofit. Theyare theoneswith
multipledogs, theonesatmultiplemeetseachweek. Theyare thecore
– take away that core and the industry falls apart.
As observed in the Special Commission’s report, “It appears
unlikely that the issue of the large scale killing of healthy greyhounds
by the industry can be addressed successfully in the future… such is
the culture of the industry and some of its leaders that it is no longer,
if it everwas, entitled to the trust of the community.”
Greyhound racing’s impendingdoom inNSWalsosendsamessage
about the treatmentofanimalsasawholeandsociety’s rapidlychanging
views. Animal abuse cannot, andwill not, be toleratedany longer.
Again, there have been arguments to counter this through the
greyhound ban debate. One is that animal abuse is present across a
range of industries, so why has greyhound racing been singled out?
There is some truth to this. Certainly animal abuse is far from isolated
togreyhounds. But that’snot a reason togive the racing industrya free
pass. Instead, it representsonesmall stepup the ladder. Rest assured,
morewill eventually follow.
And what of the estimated 1,000 people currently employed by
greyhound racing inNSW? Their situation– the innocent ones at least
– is regrettable. They didn’t deserve this, but neither did those 68,448
greyhoundsdeserve todie. Thedogs surely paidamuchheavier price.
But no longer will this be the case. Mr Baird has taken a strong
stance on this issue and to his credit has remainedunwavering in the
faceof some considerable fightback.
Notably, we can assume the NSW ban didn’t go unnoticed in
Macau where the DICJ has issued Macao (Yut Yuen) Canidrome Co
Ltd with an ultimatum to relocate its controversial dog racing track
or be shut down within two years. It’s no coincidence that most of
Macau’s greyhounds come from Australia, with DICJ Director Paulo
Martins Chan echoing Baird’s stance on the need for higher animal
care standards in the future.
It is a stance that shouldbe applauded.
BenBlaschke
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